Washington (CNN)Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will likely try to force a House vote Wednesday to censure Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters following her remarks over the weekend calling for protesters to “get more confrontational” if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is acquitted in the killing of George Floyd, House aides familiar with the matter tell CNN.
Democrats, however, will likely move to table such an action. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will need to keep her caucus nearly unified to kill the resolution given the narrow majority in the House, and it’s unclear if any Democrats will break ranks and support it. The vote could also put also moderate Democrats in a tough spot.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CNN Monday night he didn’t expect any Democrats to back the censure resolution, though House Democratic moderates are privately discussing how to handle the upcoming vote. Some are weighing whether to back the resolution and others pushing for resolutions condemning Republicans for their comments and roles around the events of the January 6 Capitol riot, according to Democratic members.
Because the resolution is expected to be privileged, McCarthy can force the House to consider the measure. Democrats would likely move to table it, and Democrats would need to limit their defections to just two members in order to succeed in killing the measure. For McCarthy to succeed, Democrats would have to fail in their effort to table it — and four Democrats would have to break ranks to support passage of the measure.
Waters, a California Democrat, on Saturday night had called for protesters to “stay on the street” and “get more confrontational” if Chauvin is acquitted. The comments, coming at a time of simmering national tension amid several high-profile killings of Black people at the hands of police officers, were immediately seized on by Republicans who said Waters was encouraging violence. In a subsequent interview, Waters said she was “nonviolent” and was not encouraging violence but instead asking people to confront the US justice system.
McCarthy introduced a resolution Monday to censure Waters for her “dangerous comments,” while accusing Pelosi of “ignoring” Waters’ behavior.
“We’ve heard this type of violent rhetoric from Waters before, and the United States Congress must clearly and without reservation reprimand this behavior before more people get hurt,” he said in a statement Monday.
McCarthy, however, has downplayed former President Donald Trump’s role in the January 6 Capitol riot that left several dead and injured more than 100 law enforcement officers. He avoided taking any action to punish GOP Rep. Mo Brooks for his incendiary rhetoric at a rally earlier that day, even though some members of his own conference had wanted to reprimand Brooks and weighed stripping him from committee slots.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise dodged a question from CNN when asked why Republicans believe Waters’ comments are worthy of censure but haven’t censured Brooks.
“Look, a lot of people have talked about the comments that other people have made and spoken out against it, right now I haven’t heard any Democrat speaking out against what Maxine has said,” Scalise said. “It’s time for Democrats to speak out when they see it on both sides. They only want to speak out on one side of the aisle, not both, and that hypocrisy, I think, is starting to shine through.”
Some Democrats are speaking out against Waters’ comments, including Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, telling CNN, “She should never have said it.”
“Right now is not a good time for that type of rhetoric, it really isn’t,” he added. “Maybe (Waters) just misspoke.”
Pelosi told CNN on Monday that Waters does not need to apologize for her comments. When asked if she believed Waters’ comments incited violence, Pelosi told CNN, “No, absolutely not.”
Hoyer also told CNN that he didn’t think Waters meant violence and “she’s never advocated violence,” adding that the congresswoman is “passionate” and “believes in her issues.”
Waters said her reference to “confrontation” was meant in the context of the Civil Rights movement’s nonviolent history.
“The whole Civil Rights movement is confrontation,” she told CNN on Capitol Hill Monday night.
Asked about GOP efforts to censure her, Waters threw her hands in the air and refused to comment.
This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.
CNN’s Chandelis Duster, Annie Grayer and Ryan Nobles contributed to this report.